More and more of our students, staff, and members of the community are becoming engaged in political activities such as collecting signatures for the recall of the governor and senators, the Occupy movement, and other protests.  At the same time, we have seen the willingness on the part of the police across the nation to engage in the use of violence against protesters.

When we showed Little Town of Bethlehem, we had an audience member talk about how she didn’t think she could stop herself from using violence if she saw someone (including security forces) attack someone she cared about.  I think that is quite natural (or at least the norm in our culture); it is unnatural in America to respond to violence with NON-violence.  We must learn how to do this.  And we must have a reason for doing it; we must understand why it is important not to hit back.

So . . . in order to provide our community – our students and fellow teachers and parents and loved ones – with all the knowledge and tools available in order to be prepared in the case that they are protesting and someone decides to use violence against them, I thought it was important to have a knowledgeable and experienced teacher come and teach us.  We are fortunate to have someone in our community who is able and willing to come and share with us both the reasons for engaging in non-violent action, and also the methodology.

It will be great to have very practical, nitty-gritty – “this is what to do when someone swings a baton at your head” kind of training, which will come after some discussion of the history and meaning or ideology of non-violence.  I hope some of you will join us:

‎*Non-Violent Workshops*
Do you have a desire to change power relations and social structures and an attitude of respect for all humanity or all life?

Come learn techniques to effectively advocate for bringing about social change and meet others who are also passionate about it.

Thursday February 9th, 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Saturday February 11th from 12:00 to 4:00 (Vegan/Organic Lunch is included!)
at the Mauthe Center (blue building across from the Kress Center)

To RSVP or questions contact: Abby Ledvina at
Hope to see you there!

Women in Religion – February 16th at 7pm, Women from various faith backgrounds gather to discuss the impact they have on their respective religion.

February 23rd at 7pm – Movie Screening of “Pray the Devil Back to Hell”.  This film tells the story of the courageous Liberian women who came together to end a bloody civil war and bring peace to their shattered country.


Any Present, Past or Future TAs . . .

   Posted by: Jill White   in Campus Events, Presentations

might be interested in coming this Friday to a workshop I’m leading on course design. Past and present TAs know how obsessed I am about backward design, and those who will work with me in the future might as well learn now!

“Throw Out the Bathwater but Save the Baby: How good course design leads to better understanding of fewer topics”  is the title, and we will meet in the 1965 Room of the University Union from 2:15-3:45 pm.  That’s Dec. 2.

My Anthro 320 students will be excited to see that we have a speaker coming to campus with amazing timing (again!).

Professor Matthew J. Liebmann, will speak broadly about anthropological views of religion, and specifically about the role of charismatic leadership in the history of Native American religion, with a case study drawing on his archaeological research on Pueblo Indian cultural revitalization in 17th Century New Mexico. You can view Matt’s bio by clicking here:

You can hear Dr. Liebman at the  Mauthe Center on Tuesday, December 6 at 7 p.m.


First in our Middle East Discussion Forum

   Posted by: Jill White   in Uncategorized

‘Islam and Democracy’ talk at 4 pm Monday
Profs. Heidi Sherman and Katia Levintova post this announcement that the first discussion in the “Islam and Democracy” series has been rescheduled to Monday (Feb. 28) from 4 to 5 p.m. in the University Union’s 1965 Room. “Much like the previous forum on the situation in the Middle East, we are hoping for an interesting (and well attended) discussion of one of the most fascinating topics in contemporary politics. Our Egyptian friends will come as well.”
*** *** *** *** ***
Sherman recommends those seeking a better understanding of the nuances of this topic prior to the discussion might access one or more of these four short readings:


International Education Week

   Posted by: Jill White   in Uncategorized

• Filmmaker Sahraa Karimi will share her award-winning film Afghan Women Behind the Wheel, and her perspective on civil rights for Afghan women, from 4 to 5:30 p.m. in the Christie Theatre. A reception for the filmmaker will be held in the University Union, Suite 150. The offices of Student Life, International Education, and Women’s and Gender Studies sponsor the event. Additional film showings: Nov. 16, 4 to 5 p.m. and 9 to 10 p.m

Professors Heidi Sherman (Humanistic Studies) and Jill White (Human Development) will share stories from their recent travels to Jordan and preview their upcoming travel course in a talk titled “Camels, Castles and Community: Why Traveling in the Middle East is NOT Scary.” The presentation will be held from 12:30 to 1:45 p.m. in the Office of International Education, Cofrin Library 207.

“Golden States of Grace: Prayers of the Disinherited” at the St. Norbert art gallery inside the Bush Art Center. This exhibit captures moments of worship and other spiritual moments of 11 different types of marginal religious communities in California (For example, Muslims formerly from Cambodia whose family and friends were victims of genocide in the 1970′s; an ashram mainly for people with HIV; a Buddhist program for prisoners, etc.). This exhibition runs until October 22nd but the gallery is only open on weekdays from 9:00-3:00, so it may be hard for some of you to get a chance to see the exhibit. But if you can make it, it will be well worth your time. The photographer, Rick Nahmias, also has a book based on the exhibit with the same title “Golden States of Grace”, which is probably available at the St. Norbert bookstore.


Sue Sprecher to Speak on Campus

   Posted by: Jill White   in Campus Events

Scientific Perspectives on Relationship Compatibility, Compatible Matches, and Compatibility Matching

Monday, October 4th
2:00 PM in the 1965 Room


Wadi Rum

   Posted by: Jill White   in Uncategorized

A few quick pics from our weekend in Wadi Rum. I just got these from Katie.

Jill on Danan, her racing camel

Jill and Sarah

Waiting for the sunset, perched over the Bedouin camp



This is the Holy Land

   Posted by: Jill White   in Jordan, Uncategorized

I think I’m too tired for a true post, but today we visited several pilgrimage sites. As many of those reading are currently in my religion class, I was thinking a great deal about you (students), and about you Mom and Dad, as I walked over the ground that Jesus, Moses, and John the Baptist once walked.

We first went to the site where John is believed to have baptized Jesus. There are many different churches there; some are currently being built, some date to the Byzantine era (5th century), and there is a post that originally marked the spot.
When you come to the site on the Jordan river where people currently believe is close to where that original baptism may have taken place, it is very strange. Or it seemed so to me. Israel is not more than 15 feet away across the Jordan, and has its own steps down to the Jordan, in a very similar set-up. The entire area, as I forgot to mention, is not a typical tourist site under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Tourism, but a military site, under the jurisdiction of the army. Is this what Jesus’ message was all about? Is this what his baptism was for?

Jesus' Baptism site, with Israel across the river Jordan

I don’t profess to speak for Jesus, but this situation seems unutterably sad to me.

Jill at the Jordan River

I hope that everyone in the United States will notice that the Jewish state and the Muslim state on both sides of these borders takes excellent care of this entirely Christian holy place.

We went from there to Mount Nebo, where Moses (PBUH) was led, so the Hebrew, Christian and Muslim holy books say, to see the Promised Land, and to die. God brought him this far, but no farther. He was not allowed to enter into Caannan. The view from there is incredible, just as it says in Deuteronomy; you can see Jericho, Jerusalem, all the land of Moab (Madaba), the Dead Sea, the River Jordan, and more.

The view from Mt. Nebo


Learning About NGOs

   Posted by: Jill White   in Jordan, Uncategorized

I have had a number of very informative (and fun) interactions over the last week and a half that have taught me a great deal about what kinds of organizations are active in Jordan (especially those that serve children and youth), what they are doing, and how they fit into the bigger picture.
I am still working on putting together that larger picture, because a lot of services that are provided by the state or by private industry in the United States are provided by NGOs in Jordan. And there are some grey areas, Commissions, for example, that were begun by royal decree but are not funded by the state.

Heading into East Amman

If you have been reading some of the other blogs, you have read about The Jordan River Foundation. We visited their Queen Rania Family and Children Center last week. That is a good example of a royal initiative that is now supported by grants and donations. They have really great programming for children and families which is geared toward child abuse prevention. The Jordan River Foundation has two main foci: one is community empowerment (this includes income-generating initiatives among other things), and child protection. They have a shelter for children that houses 32. We did not tour that, but we heard about it, and it sounds wonderful.

East Amman

We also visited Questscope and met with their director, Curtis Rhodes, who is a UW Madison alum. He has a very inspiring life story. Once a university professor, he was Dean at the American University in Beirut during the civil war, and realized he needed to be more useful to society. He began Questscope, which specifically targets street children. They have a whole range of programs, most of which are about providing education and empowering young people who live on the streets.

This week I went to dinner at the home of a friend I met (long story), who introduced me to her friend who is a Child Protection worker for Save the Children. They work exclusively with Iraqi children. Their mandate is giant in scope, including health care, education, housing, civic engagement, self-expression, reduction of discrimination, gender equality, and much more. I am meeting with her in her offices later this week, and she will arrange for me to go to the field.

Then today I went to Ruwwad, which is in Jebal Nadith. This is a very impoverished part of east Amman. It is really an “unofficial” Palestinian refugee camp. Ruwwad is doing so many incredible things – all about youth empowerment and civic engagement – that it is hard to know where to begin. I have an appointment to return on Tuesday, when the director has offered to take me and those I bring with me to her house and cook us lunch!

This is the hospitality of Jordan. Oops, it is Arabic study hour – more soon.